Central African Republic: Central African Republic diamond wars kill 30: military
Central African Republic diamond wars kill 30: military
Clashes between rival groups in the Central African Republic vying for control over diamond mines have left 30 dead and dozens wounded in a week, a military official said Monday.
The fighting in Bria, a town in the centre of the country where the fighting has been taking place, said the clashes claimed nine lives on Sunday, bringing the toll for the past week to 30.
"Red Cross medics counted nine bodies and more than 10 people with bullets wounds on Sunday in a fresh outburst of violence that displaced the civilian population," the official said from Bria.
"These clashes which have been going on for a week have already killed 30 people and wounded dozens," he said.
The official said the fighting pits former rebels from the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) and the rebels of the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP).
The UFDR is dominated by the Ronga and the CPJP by the Goula, two rival ethnic groups who have feuded over the region's diamond mines for years.
"On Monday, the UFDR former rebels were in control of the town and surrounded the Bria provincial hospital, causing some patients and their relatives to run into hiding," the military official said.
He said they also destroyed homes in Ronga-populated areas.
Bria is the country's main diamond mining hub and according to a report published late last year by the International Crisis Group and entitled "Dangerous Little Stones", diamonds are fueling conflict.
The UFDR has signed a peace agreement and the CPJP a ceasefire but ICG said diamonds stoked a type of conflict that is best described as "banditry under a rebel flag".
"The government’s refusal to distribute national wealth fairly has led jealous individuals and disenfranchised groups to take up arms for a bigger slice of the cake," the group said.
"President Francois Bozize keeps tight control of the diamond sector to enrich and empower his own ethnic group but does little to alleviate the poverty that drives informal miners to dig in perilous conditions," the report said.
Industrial mining never took off in the impoverished country and most diamonds are extracted by an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 unlicensed miners equipped with picks and shovels.
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